“When I woke up after my stroke, all I wanted was to be normal again,” recalls Kelsey Tainsh. Normal — as in a healthy teen athlete who could brush her teeth and shower on her own, who wasn’t wheelchair-bound, who wasn’t compelled to hide her paralyzed right hand in her pocket everywhere she went, one who hadn’t lost all of her high school friends except for her two triplet sisters.
Now, this world-champion athlete not only learned to walk and talk again but also to embrace her differences. “Our hardest obstacles can be our biggest opportunities,” she says.
Kelsey’s first taste of being different came at age 5. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor — an optic pathway pilocytic astrocytoma. Her parents brought her from their home in Winter Park, Florida, to Boston Children’s Hospital for treatment — surgery and radiation.
“It wasn’t a big deal. I wore a baseball cap to cover my scar and got back on with my life pretty quickly,” she says.